MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, GA -- Three teenagers from the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Youth/Teen Activity Center took part in the Marine Corps wide 2002 Virtual Teen Summit July 26.
The teenagers watched a live 90-minute television broadcast that featured the Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Alford P. McMichael, and his wife Rita.
The summit was designed to connect children from around the Marine Corps to discuss issues that affect today's military youth. In recent years the Corps' Teen Summit was held in Washington, where one teen and one adult from each base attended.
This year's televised summit was the first of its kind, broadcast to Marine Corps teens around the world and allowing more of them to participate. Teens submitted their concerns and solutions in advance via phone, fax and e-mail.
Paula Caserio, family childcare youth/teen director, coordinated the event here. During the past few weeks she met with the teens involved with the activity center to prepare for the Virtual Teen Summit. The group met to discuss the issues they felt needed to be brought to the attention of McMichael and Marine Corps leaders.
The biggest issue Caserio feels is affecting Marine Corps youth is making help available to children about the stress related to military life.
Because military families frequently move, children often find leaving friends behind difficult. Moving also brings the stress of adjusting to a new school, new town and unfamiliar surroundings. Even if the whole family is not moving, a deployed parent or one temporarily assigned duty away from home can create stress for children.
Caserio feels the Marine Corps needs to find ways to help children with these issues, because they are as much a part of the Marine Corps as their parents.
Christopher C. Knight, 15-year-old son of Maj. Harry Davis Jr., director of War Reserve Department here, was one of the three local teens who watched the live broadcast.
Knight feels the toughest thing he has to cope with as a military child is moving every three to four years. He realizes that moving is an inevitable part of military life, but he hopes the Marine Corps can find a way to ease some of the stress for children.
"You meet new people and just when you become good friends, you have to move again and you don't want to leave them behind," said Knight.
Some of the issues that teens had questions about during the broadcast included teen center programming; teen center space and equipment; skate parks; how off-base teens can easily access on-base programs; guest policies for bringing civilian friends; getting teens involved in the programs; and where to get scholarship information.
Although some topics Caserio and the base teens felt were important were not addressed during the televised summit, they faxed a form stating issues of concern. While not all phone calls, e-mails and faxes were answered during the 90-minute show, McMichael will, nevertheless, review them and take them into account when devising solutions to the problems affecting the Corps' youth.
"They [Marine Corps leaders] know that the youth are the future, and they want to make sure we step off on the right foot and we go out there and do the right thing as we get older," said Knight, referring to why he feels McMicheal cares about the Corps' youth and hosts these Teen Summits.